See: Inside the Exhibit du Jour, ‘Black Eye’


In Tribeca this weekend, curator Nicola Vassell drew the fashion- and art-world masses to her new show, "Black Eye," a collection of work about race by contemporary African-American artists. Given Vassell's eclectic social circle, that meant everyone from designer Waris Ahluwalia to actress Joy Bryant and artist Wangechi Mutu turned up for the event. (Fans of old-school hip-hop will note that Fab 5 Freddy also made an appearance.) Afterwards, everyone mingled over plantains and rice for a dinner Vassell and Jeffrey Deitch hosted at nearby restaurant All Good Things, and many donned #Been #Trill's graphic Ts celebrating the evening. (In the brand's hashtag-friendly fashion, they read "#Black Original.")

The wide-ranging show, which included photography by 12 Years a Slave director-slash-artist Steve McQueen and a painting by Kehinde Wiley, was inspired by two earlier exhibits, according to Vassell. She drew inspiration from both Thelma Golden's seminal Black Male show, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and Kerry James Marshall's "Who's Afraid of Red, Black and Green," which showed at the Vienna Secession two years ago. "It was obvious to me that the Obama era had fundamentally shifted the perception of blackness to a more 'wholesome' place in the wider cultural mainframe," the curator said. "But what does that mean exactly? Is this shift just a guise for prejudice that persists subconsciously? Are we talking Band-Aids rather than stitches for gaping wounds? Or do we have a group of terrific artists who can, in a Freudian sense, tackle the neuroses surrounding race in a compelling, contemporary way? The answer is, Yes, We Do."